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By Elissa Bernstein
"Cathy! There's Richard on the ice." Grandma Carson tugged on her granddaughter's sweater. "Richard! Yahoo!”
"Grandma, please sit down. The other hockey fans can't see."
Grandma settled back in her seat, smiling proudly. "Our famous hockey star!"
"There's the starter whistle, Grandma."
The puck flew. The crowd roared. Suddenly, all eyes were riveted on the melee escalating on the ice. Grandma gasped. "They're taking their clothes off! Oh my…they're fighting! And Richard's right in the middle of it! "
Cathy tried to calm her down. "Don’t worry, it happens a lot."
Grandma jumped to her feet, "DON'T YOU TOUCH MY GRANDSON!”
"Phweeeet!!" The whistle echoed throughout the stadium. The referee called a 4-minute penalty against Richard. Cathy explained to her overwrought grandmother, "Richard must’ve started the fight with his arch enemy Petya Trotsky."
"My Richard would never start a fight. That
referee needs glasses,” Grandma huffed.
“Maybe he should consider lawn bowling,” Grandma suggested.
When the penalty was over, Richard was back at it
with Petya, scuffling for the puck.
“SCORE A TOUCH DOWN, RICHARD!” Grandma shouted.
“It’s a goal, Grandma,” Cathy giggled.
The puck went out of play and the referee blew his whistle. Richard skated nonchalantly towards the boards. Suddenly, Petya started skating towards him.
“Petya’s going up to Richard. Maybe he wants to make nice,” Grandma smiled.
Cathy bit her nails nervously. “I think he’s out for revenge.”
The referee blew his whistle a second time. But that didn’t stop Petya. He kept after Richard, picking up speed.
“RICHARD! WATCH YOUR BACK!” Grandma yelled.
Petya slammed into Richard, bodychecking him into the boards. Grandma shrieked. Richard's skates sailed out from under him and he was knocked unconscious. When he recovered, Richard sued Petya for his injuries.
Richard’s head was bandaged. “Your Honor, Petya had no right to check me after the whistle. Players should be bound by the rules. Make him pay for this!”
Petya argued back. “Everyone knows that hockey is a violent sport. To get the puck, players often trip each other, slash each other with their sticks, and fight each other. Body checks are just another risk inherent in professional hockey. If Richard can’t take the heat, he should get off the ice!”
Does Petya owe damages? You! be the Judge. Then look below for the court’s decision.
“Petya is off the hook,” held the Judge. “This severe body check, several seconds after the whistle, may have been in violation of the rules, but it’s just part of the game of professional hockey. The game is played intensely partly because the players can reap huge financial rewards.”
This column is based on a case from Missouri. If you have a similar problem, please contact a lawyer in your jurisdiction. We are proud to bring you some of the current legal issues from across the country for discussion and debate. To provide compelling entertainment, we have fictionalized the names, the characters and the scenarios in the case. Any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental. In the interest of clarity and brevity, the legal issues in the case have been greatly reduced and simplified. Elissa Bernstein is a lawyer and nationally syndicated columnist. Copyright 2007 Haika Enterprises AS1-1 (AS1-6).
Newspaper readers have been enjoying the You! be the Judge column for more than 15 years.
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